Tuesday, September 14, 2021

We're Not In Kansas Anymore....Or The United States

Usually, I try to be witty and I think that is the case with the title here. However, it is also extremely true and a huge part of why for the past 8+ months there has been nothing posted here.

So, what am I talking about exactly? Well, I moved outside of the United States to Scotland. Specifically, Aberdeen, Scotland. Been here for about three weeks now but there was a ton that went into getting here. Packing, selling and a whole world of logistics. While many of our personal effects have yet to arrive, the lions share is done. (For now at least.)

As you can imagine, this really impacted running. Actually, I think putting 4100 miles in last year has impacted things most. Today, I hit 2000 for this year. BIG DIFFERENCE. My goal is 2500 so I am on target. I'm adjusting to finding new routes. Still haven't done any long 10+ runs. In due time. What I can say is that my mileage is ticking back up and more consistent again. For June, July and August, there were lots of disruptions that impacting getting out daily on either the treadmill or actually outside/ Speaking of the treadmill, no, it did not make the trip. I used it up to almost the end before it got rehomed with a friend/ 

Racing wise, 2021 has been more active. But not by that much even if I tripled last years output. Those keeping score will remember 2020 had one race. Meaning, with the assistance of math, you would be correct to get three as the number of races. Two were ultras. One was a DNF. 

First up was World's End 50K. It was a race that I was originally scheduled to do in 2020 and I would say I would have been in better shape for it then. Considering life's stresses, I treated it more as a training run than really a race. It was a good time even if people did have a hard time believing me beforehand when I said I wasn't racing it. Seeing friends and enjoying one of my favorite parks was really what it was all about. In the end, I think I was 9th male and 12th overall. Somebody care to fact check that for me?

Second was my attempt to celebrate all things NYC by doing TGNY100. Since, it was known I was leaving the country in August. If you know me, you know that NYC plays a bit of a role in my life. So even being undertrained, I thought I could muscle through 100 miles to see the city. Wow, I was wrong. Not so much on the undertrained but more on the heat. I suffered in the warmth early. Even stopping off at a 7-11 and getting a nice cold Slurpee did not do the trick of keeping me core cool. In the end, I got to the 50K mark and called it a day. One positive running take away, even with walking, I did cover it faster than Worlds End. Yes, I know apples to oranges. Can't I just get a little slack in searching for self accomplishment? Much of the rest of the weekend I spent hanging out in NYC going places and doing things I wanted. A very fitting goodbye.

While the year is not over and I may squeeze in a race, the last one I did was the One Nation 4 Miler hosted by RunBucks. It was on July 4th. Out and back course on pavement. Probably my best race of the year with a second place result. Managed a 4 mile race PR. By the end, I was sucking wind as the gas tank was empty. First case of real speed work since December of 2019! Again, take what I can get. 

Aside from those three races, notable running items include spending a few days up in the New Brunswick area doing a few old training routes. Also, made it out to a group run of Raritan Valley Road Runners where I knew some folks back when I lived in the area. Finished up the notable runs really with one last run from my house in East Falls over the Ben Frankling Bridge into NJ. 

If I had to have any regret is that I am missing the fall racing season back in the states. Missing out on this year's Rock N Knob trail race is one of those I had intended to do. Alas, not to be. 

Reflecting back, it does seem like a chapter in my life has closed. I spent 25 years racing in the states. So many accomplishments that I never believed possible happened. Running took me to many heights (literally and figuratively). 

Now, I have a new chapter, one, where I don't have expectations when I show up. That's good for me now as the weight of success is a hard one as the expectation is to somehow always be expected to show up and win. That sucks a little joy out of it that the act of winning only can do so much to help. It's a double edged sword. I'm older now. Officially, I am a 'masters' runner.

Moving forward, I'm going to be me in whatever form it takes. There's a lot of excitement out there and you know I will grab onto it. And no, this post does not mean the blog is dead. Far from it. It might be reinvigorated and repurposed into more. Just know that it's all from the heart.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

A look back at the year that wasn't and was

 So 2020 is just about behind us. In fact, it is behind folks in some places globally at the moment. As we head into 2021, I implore folks to be cautious and safe. Yes, Covid-19 vaccines are starting to become available but it will still be a long process to we return to normal. Even here in the US, right now there are only anticipated vaccinations for 4.7 percent of the population in 2021. 

With the global pandemic, racing personally was pretty non-existent. 2020 saw me only reach ONE starting line. It was a 2 hour timed event with under 25 participants that had rolling starts to minimize spread. That single event was in September and really pushed my comfort level. Not in terms of running but safety. And I ran that with face covering. If that event was now, I wouldn't even consider it with the Covid numbers. 

What this means for looking ahead is that I'm not actively signing up for any 2021 events. I do have a roll over registration for World's End 50K in late May. 

As was the case in my last entry from July, most of miles have been done avoiding people. It still really troubles me about ignorance and a flippant disregard of safety from the running community. There is enough blame to go around so I don't feel I need to point out sectors. And yes, because I did one event I still am part of those to be blamed. I'd like to think on the whole my actions around Covid have been wise but I did a race where other people were present regardless if there was distancing. It's a risk because a group got together. Looking back, it was my weak moment. A risky one at that. 

My point is, we need to stop being so selfish in needing to do group runs and races. I'd love to get back to doing both as quick as possible but that's not happening any quicker if as a collective group continue to make 'me first' decisions. Every time I see group photos, I cringe. You might be the type that believes in masks and social distancing but come running, you behave no different than the 'anti-maskers, covid is a hoax people'.

In other words, knock it the fuck off. 

You want to go run? Great. Do it be yourself. Avoid areas where there are crowds. That is the way each of us can do our part. 

I've made my sacrifices avoiding some of my favorite and super local trails. Why? Because they are super crowded and people somehow forget face coverings at home like it is okay just because we are outdoors. If you are stepping out your home, there is no excuse or reason to not have one.

With that said, let's hope 2021 speeds up vaccination and slows the spread so we can enjoy things we have sacrificed and missed. And maybe in 2021, I will be less cranky as a 41 year old. Considering, I'm 41 while typing this, we have a long way to go for the result. I do know while 2020 saw me run 4100 miles, I'd like to have less miles and more competition. 

We can dream.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Much like a lot of things gone south in 2020....(BTW, Wear the damn mask!)

First things first....Wear a mask! (Or Buff. Or Neck Gaiter. Or any face covering!)

Who would have thought my first entry here since October would come just before August? Nobody that's who. I admit, I'm shocked it has been so long. However, I personally am finding time a really weird construct these days.

It's been since the first Saturday in December since I ran an actual in person race. 2020 has been full of treadmill mileage. You could say so much that I basically have crushed the unit. As I type this, I am awaiting a new Console unit to my NordicTrack Commerical 1750 that I got in Jan 2019.

From a pure running perspective, really only have two things to report. First, I'm back down near my racing weight give or take two pounds which is saying a lot since stress and work had me up higher than you might ever notice. (I did.) Second, the only running event I have participated in this year has been the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. During that event, I did my highest mileage weeks ever! However, it got really hard to put in sizable mileage (because my competitive/goal mechanism kicked in) so after I completed the Back Across Tennessee portion (basically a second round) I stopped. Doing 10-15 miles a day is much easier while maintaining my work. (I'm not complaining about having work, I understand I am much luckier than most.)

A little under three weeks from now, I am scheduled to run a 50K race. It would be my first in person race of the year. It was the race I was signed up for before everything shut down. Originally, scheduled for March, it was pushed back twice. To be honest, I'm not sure if I will participate. As of this typing, the event has not released it's COVID-19 Mitigation plan. Personally, I find this troubling. Hopefully, my worries will be smoothed over once I see how the Race Director plans how to handle social distancing, check in, aid stations, etc. So, yes, if I feel the mitigation plan is not cautious enough, I will not run in a race I've been looking forward to.

Of course, what is probably more worriesome is that we are still trying to get spread under control. As I am based in the United States, I blame the lack of leadership from the presidential administration not mandating masks (or face coverings). A global health pandemic has turned into some political football game with people's lives. Do I want to go the amusement park to get on some roller coasters? Heck yeah! Do I want to have gatherings with friends? Most definitely! Do I want to go see the latest over the top action film filled with car chases and explosions? YEP! However, since this nation operations under the delusion of 'American Exceptionalism', we're not even close to really being able to enjoy those things. I'm willing to shut down the whole country for months and have the government do what governments should do and that is take the financial hit. Give people stipends to pay their rent/mortgage/bills. Tell health insurance companies (and providers) that all treatments will be government reimbursed in this troubling time. Our system is putting lots of people at risk because we fail as a nation to have a social state that helps people.

Probably what gets me more, are people who regardless of what the government should or should not do, lack some sense. Unless you are inside your residence, take some sort of face covering with you. Listen, I'll concede if nobody is around that you can have it not fully in use. (Personally, I find Buffs/Neck Gaiters easier for this. You have it with you and you don't even need to carry it in your hand!) If you see someone a block away, make sure you have it over your mouth and nose. Don't act oblivious to the world around you. Pay attention. If you find yourself without the covering and you see someone, socially distance to the extreme!

Can I even do better myself? Sure, because we are not done with this first wave yet.

This might not sit right with some folks but cyclists and runners, if you are out doing your thing, make sure to have your coverings too! Way too often, do I see photos of people (including my own friends) in clusters without adhering to CDC guidelines. In fact, this disregard, is why nearly all of my miles are done indoors on a treadmill. In the few times I have tried to venture forth, I have encountered too many people without masks/coverings in places where distancing meant rolling down a ravine.

Also, if organizations are advising to avoid places, avoid them. I mention this is in part due to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy asking people to avoid thru-hikes because the AT is a place that just screams spreading. (Do some Google searching and you'll find stories). So to hear that a person has had the audacity to attempt a speed record this year is egregious. Furthermore, this person will be traveling from states with spikes into states that have quarantines if you are entering from any number of states.

Sure, all of the above sounds harsh and angry. It's the reality of how I feel. But I want to move in a different direction.....

Lately, I've begun to approach this all as needing to pitch in together. And I see the only way to really be able to do this is to set the example. Encourage others to do that same. Do it not for you but for others.

#settheexample

#wearthemask


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Trying to find the path...

2019 continues to be a rough year on the running front, overall. I did manage to have some recent enjoyment with a few smaller 5Ks since my last entry and a fun 60 minute trail race. Those were experiences that felt filling. Not a ton of time on the day. Few logistics to worry about. Plus, day of sign up. That sort of segways into the following post I made on my personal FB page:

"So what I really didn't mention about Scotland was I got and still have a cough along with torquing my ankle a second time last Saturday. That cough really is the stickler because I hack some while running. (Also evident riding the bike.) Point being...No Batona today. Fine but not fine with it. However, it got me thinking walking Falcon this morning, I likely will only do one race a year that I have to register far in advance. I have never been much of a fan of registering for races in advance because other things may come along. In thinking, that flexibility made running mine. Want to get back to that."

Over the past years, as the sport of ultrarunning has really boomed, it seems just about every race under the sun you have to register months in advance. Now, I am fine with the occasional need to do this but life does not necessarily lead itself to doing this for the number of races I tend to want to run. Being locked in when work gets crazy is not conductive to positive experiences. I say that because running almost becomes like a burden. For many years, when I ran predominately road races, I would show up and sign up day of. Sure it cost a few more bucks but I found I was not as wound up about a whole bunch of things. Embracing a sort of FOMO, increasingly has set me up for 'failure'. Each time I do that and something comes along where I cannot do something (be it sickness, injury, or just stress) it erodes me just a little bit.

I just need to go out and run....what I have been doing feels forces and as a byproduct not fun. Ultimately, when I look at the results from the past two years, I think it shows.

We'll see if I can get back there but it requires a bit of going back in time....

Monday, September 9, 2019

You know it's a rough go....

...when this is only the second blog entry for 2019 in September.

Back at my last entry I was coming off a DNF at Traprock due to a stupid toe injury. Between mid-April and the end of June, I was able to get some sense of momentum winning some races including the Lost Turkey Trail 50K. In fact, that was my last decent race. I have had two races since 6/29. One was the Race Street Run in Jim Thorpe that I was 5th and ran 12 minutes slower (in a 15K) than my winning time two years ago. Yesterday was even rougher...a DNF in a marathon.

We can say that last result sums up the year well. I was honored to toe the starting line for Chasing the Unicorn to attempt a Boston Qualifier before the cutoff. Going into the year, one of my goals was to run a BQ time so I could run it in my first year as a masters. In the past, I would be able to get in BQ times during training runs. Nothing close to it here. I started off okay but the back of my knees felt tight. It was not something I was able to shake off and I had no real turnover. My splits were going in the wrong direction. At the half marathon mark, I shut it down as I was behind pace. Does it sting? Absolutely.

However, I cannot say it is surprising given the past twelve months.

In that time, I...

Had my bike stolen
Got in a car accident driving a rental in California
Went from administrating one IT system to three
Fell off a ladder in the woods
Went on a second medication for anxiety

I'm sure there are other things in there but I'm trying to take it all in stride. Even doing that I know things are a little off balance.

And all of it breeds a feeling of being worn down and tired. I'm almost 40 and have been running for 25 years so at some point change is coming. Right now, it is not on my terms.

One might even say, I'm not as excited running wise. Historically, I have always had a number of races lined up as a 'schedule' of sorts that I could look at as helping to have goals. Over time many of the events I have loved have ended. It has become harder to find events to replace the lost ones. I'd say this has led to a level of erosion of enjoyment when it comes to my running. You could probably sum everything up in this paragraph. The more I have thought about it this is what has changed the most with my running. Those events have been what makes it easier to get out in the morning to do runs in a place that I have run hundreds if not thousands of times now. Couple that with not having been able to get away for a little mini vacation to mix up my running to give me a little boost further anchors me in place.

As my friend Mary said, I am "more than just a runner" so it is not like my life is over. I am still currently running some. Been reading lots of books which I would say my highlight thus far might just be Firestorm by Edward Struzik.

Right now, I will re-adjust and find what works best. If that is less mileage but enjoyment so be it. I don't see the goal being less mileage. I do need some recharge and jump start but the ground is shifting at the moment.



Thursday, April 18, 2019

April finally brings a post!

Wish I could say things have been all sunshine and rainbows but it is not that type of year on the running front.

As a result this is going to be as quick and dirty as inadvertently jumping into toxic sludge. (Think of it as the Cuyahoga River.)

To polish off 2018, Santa (meaning our savings) brought the home a nice new shiny NordicTrack treadmill. Commercial style of course. Primarily, this was to help with a bit of motivation on days I wasn't motivated to run outside or due to time constraints. I started off 2019 good using the treadmill and some outdoor runs to get ready for a 50K down in Delaware in January. HOWEVER, I got hit with another bout of Bronchitis. So unwanted rest there. I was bummed because I was looking to it as part of a tune up to Lone Star 100K.

Complicating matters around Lone Star, I had to go out to Irvine, California for a week. So I had to fly into El Paso, Texas from Philly, then go to Irvine. While flying was all smooth, the timing of it all stressed me out to where I was not ready to tackle hours racing in Franklin Mountains. On the bright side, I did manage to run a 5K in Las Cruces, NM. Sadly, I did not have road racers with me and my time was ugly at 18:05 for 2nd. Having done a 5K did allow me to time to go hiking so I did enjoy that. (Plus, I went to the movies and saw Cold Pursuit. Not the best of Liam Neeson films. You want the best go watch The Grey.)

Being in California, I was excited for some new trails. In fact, I picked my lodging based on the proximity to trails. Yet, with my luck, nearly all were closed due to recent weather. I did manage to get on some but not with the extent I want. It also impacted a 5 mile trail race I had considered running. It changed into a road race so I opted for other activities. (Like visit the Nixon Library and the Fullerton Arboretum.)

Not much between that span in February until late March when I had the Phillies 5K. It was great to do with my neighbors. Not being at the top of my game was evident here as I ran 17:34 for 6th. Last time I did the race I was a minute faster for 2nd. Positively, I was faster than back in Las Cruces.

Just a few weeks ago, I ran an okay 17:15 for a 1st in a 5K over at Rutgers-Camden. I was happy with it because the course was changed from the past and it was long and had tighter turns. (The kind that required a throttle up and down of pace.) Coming off this, I felt fairly good going into last weekend's race in Connecticut, Traprock 50K. I'd done the race previously so I knew to expect some real challenging terrain. Also, I opted to drive up after the business day on Thursday and work remote on Friday. A 4 hour drive can be stressful for me in a case like this. So by driving up and staying an extra night, I was working to keep anxiety and stress down. In this regard, I think I did the job as I got up and made the race start fine.

HOWEVER!

The evening before Traprock, I was walking across the hotel room and injured myself in one of the most absurd manners. What happened was I was lifting my right foot but my big toe decided to 'velcro' itself to the floor so as the foot moved, the toe bent and jammed back into the rest of the foot. It hurt, A LOT! It felt worse then stubbing my toe. Guess, I would compare it with the initial ouch of a bad ankle sprain. Stupid toe region hurt even in my sleep. Still, I stepped to the line doing my best to not think about it.

Immediately as the race started, I did my best to run like usual but was constantly thinking about my foot. Doing mental system checks. I was managing for a good while on the first of three loops until I no longer wasn't. Basically, I had to stop running and walk due to the pounding. When I reached that point, I knew my day was done. I tried to initially switch into a different pair of shoes before throwing in the towel but they would not have done the trick. Sad, to be honest, as I thought my foot placement in the rocky sections was spot on. Still my main worry was a stress fracture or worse. And I had a 4 hour drive home with the same foot as my driving foot!

Anyways, that brings me to the past few days....

Been wearing shoes where the sole doesn't mend so I'm not bending my right foot much. Been able to walk. Have opted to not run right now and admit, it is making me a tad stir crazy. Considering, the top of my foot still hurts with pressure, it is not without the realm of reason that I didn't do something to my first metatarsal.  Just hoping a week or two of down time in conjunction with footwear that won't aggravate things is the proper remedy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Talk about a drop off.....

Ok, so I have been REALLY bad this year blogging. Maybe I should do transcription of my thoughts via plug in (If it was only possible.)

Certainly thought I would have written something in August or September following by European race debut. However, work muscled its was in to dominate everything since the time I got back from my Scottish vacation in mid-August. In fact, things got so bad that I took 3 whole weeks off in the middle of September. Yes, right in the middle of prime fall training and racing, I lacked the mental and physical bandwidth to run.

Consider also this, as I have anxiety and am on medication to manage it, yet, it looks like my dosage will need to be adjusted up. (Went on it finally. Probably should have addressed it YEARS ago.) Job duties are increasing and that is all fine and good but the logistical aspects and time demands are multiplying. I've worked some weekend time and in September I was putting in over 10 hours of overtime a week on average. So yes, the impacts to my running have been quite substantive in 2018. To end the year, I wound up staying really close to home doing 5ks. Not nearly as quick as I hoped but still fairly decent performances. The lack of stress doing that distance versus a marathon or ultra probably helped me manage to do them. In fact, work and/or anxiety knocked out 4 races I had been signed up for....Breakneck, Georgia Jewel, Bucks County Marathon (where I would have been attempting to win 5 in a row) and just this past weekend, Ancient Oaks (which worked out well because I went to Disney a day earlier and learned running Ancient Oaks would not have made Disney fun at all the day after).

Not all was bad. I managed to do the 50K distance at Batona (that Econolodge was certainly overpriced). And even more amazingly, I did an ultra in Ohio (Bigfoot) while out there for a week of work training (which itself brought on a lot of stress.)

I did also manage to run a nighttime 3 hour in Georgia on a quick getaway where I did a 5K in the morning. That trip also had lots of Waffle House. (One sitting was between finishing the 5K and the awards) Yum!

Probably would say the highlight of the year was racing on the West Highland Way in the Devil o the Highlands race. Sure, I took 2nd place but at one point I was in 7th. I moved up 5 places in the last 15 miles. I cut a 16 mile lead down to 8 in that span with 7 of that in the last 7 miles. Plus, it was the most beautiful landscape.

We'll see what 2019 holds but I'm going to take it as it comes. There are races I want to do but clearly with my changing landscape, I need to be a little fluid. If that means smaller events where I can show up day of....so be it. May the new year bring all the readers here great success in what they wise to achieve in whatever avenue of life.